Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Perfect Hiking Shorts ?

'The North Face - Meridian Cargo Shorts'

I'm sure I'm not alone in struggling to find the perfect hiking shorts. Common problems for me are that most are too heavy & cumbersome, have poor pocket design, have poor waist design, are too long or too short, fit badly, are uncomfortable or make you look like a German tourist. I had struggled for many years to find anything approaching a good pair. Key features in my quest were that they must be lightweight but durable, pack small, have good easy access pockets (and in particular have a leg pocket that can accommodate an OS map), dry quickly when wet, have a good fit (not be too tight on the thighs when walking), be a good length (just touching the knee caps when stood) and look reasonably OK. These shorts tick all the boxes for me.  Allow me to explain.

TNF Meridian Shorts
I'm a 5 foot 10" bloke with a 34" waist and reasonably normal build but with a back side perhaps on the larger side of average. Good strong gluts I would say. The problem for me with most shorts is that they are too tight over the bum and especially over the front of the thighs. Perhaps it is because TNF, being an American company, and with an eye on their home market, give a more generous fit than some UK companies. For me, the result is a perfect fit.

The Meridians are nice and light (190g) and the fabric is a perfect mix of durability, texture and 'airiness' which results in a pair of shorts that you can wear all day without noticing them. They claim to be quick drying and I can reliably confirm this quality. Last year, after a hot and sweaty hike up Loughrigg Fell, the cool clear water of Grasmere was just too tempting and I waded in for a quick swim. By the time I had walked back to Grasmere village, the shorts (although not my underwear) were bone dry.

The Map Test
The waist is 3/4 elasticated which means that it doesn't dig in but has enough stretch to sit comfortably around the waist. They have a waist drawcord which works well, and belt loops (which I haven't used but its nice to have them). There is a single front button and a zip fly (I hate button flies). 

Pockets are just right; 2 normal open front pockets with a tough mesh lining for breathability and 2 good sized thigh pockets with velcro closure and a handy cord loop for quick opening. These thigh pockets can hold an OS map although you wont be able to close them - no big deal. The single right rear pocket is zip closed for security and doubles as a Stow Pocket. There is also a further internal security pocket. Just enough functional pocket space without looking like a scout leader. 

I bought my first pair of these about 4 years ago, much to the despair of my wife who though I was just adding more flotsam to my increasing pile of 'redundant' shorts. Not so. After 12 months of wear I realized that I had at last found my perfect shorts and bought another 2 pairs online.

'The Shorts' in action on Helm Crag

I use these shorts on an almost daily basis at home and for nearly all of my 3 season hikes. Suffice to say, that between the 3 pairs, they have had considerable use over the past few years. They remain as good as new and I anticipate many more years of use.

I would be interested to hear any other suggestions for the perfect shorts (just in case TNF stop making them - perish the thought!). 

No offence meant to German tourists or Scout leaders by the way ;))

RRP £45 but ive seen them as cheap as £25 on line.

The official photo - Also in Green
Packed into its own pocket

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